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Research Shows Ritalin Causes Long-Term Brain Injury

Though still in the research phase, a new study showed that the ADHD drug can potentially cause clinical depression and damage to the frontal lobes.

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By John Lavitt

04/14/14

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According to a study reported by the American College Of Neuropsychopharmacology, long-term use of the popular ADHD drug Ritalin can potentially result in serious brain injury.

Chemically similar to cocaine, the short-term side effects of Ritalin include “nervousness, agitation, anxiety, insomnia, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, palpitations, headache, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and psychosis.” It was thought that Ritalin had limited long-term effects, but a past study recorded in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed this not to be the case.

Lead researcher, Prof. Joan Baizer of the University of Buffalo explained how "clinicians consider Ritalin to be short-acting. When the active dose has worked its way through the system, they consider it all gone." What proved problematic to Baizer was that the research conducted "suggests that [Ritalin] has the potential for causing long-lasting changes in brain cell structure and function."

Another study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse revealed that Ritalin causes physical changes in neurons in reward regions of mouse brains and these effects were similar to the long-term side effects of cocaine. When placed together, the three studies implied that the long-term side effects of Ritalin include both the onset of clinical depression and potential brain injury to the frontal lobes.

As reported in The New York Times, three million children in this country take drugs for ADHD. In the past 30 years, there has been a 2,000 percent increase in the consumption of drugs for attention-deficit disorder. Among many children, the abuse of Ritalin has become commonplace. When their peers are prescribed these drugs, peer pressure leads to abuse.

The result of the damage done by Ritalin in the brain is similar to frontal lobe syndrome. Over time, frontal lobe syndrome can render a person increasingly incapable of inhibiting impulsive behaviors. In addition, such damage contributes to the onset of clinical depression.

Young people are more vulnerable than adults to the negative side effects of Ritalin because their brains are still actively forming and are becoming delineated. It would seem that any battle against drugs needs to begin by eliminating the all-too-common thread of prescribing ADHD drugs like Ritalin to children in the United States.

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